The 1944 wheat penny is a must-have for coin collectors everywhere! It is one of the famous Lincoln coins, and can fetch a high price at auction depending on the version you have.
Copper 1944 wheat pennies with no mint marks, D mint marks, and S mint marks are found all over the place. Whereas 1944 steel pennies, and those with fascinating errors are rare and elusive!
Perhaps you’ve found or inherited an interesting 1944 wheat penny, and you want to find out a little more about it. Why is it famous? How much is it worth? Or you could be a coin enthusiast, on the lookout for rare and unusual pennies for your collection.
You have come to the right place! Here, we will equip you with information about the 1944 wheat penny, and its key features such as mint marks and errors. We will provide you with both a valuation guide and a buying guide.
What Is The 1994 Wheat Penny?
The famous 1944 wheat penny, also called the 1944 Lincoln penny, was designed by Victor David Brenner. Famously, this coin was manufactured using ammunition shells from World War II, although this is disputed by some.
This coin is notable for its copper and zinc combination – the wheat pennies which came before were crafted from copper zinc and tin.
An impressively high number of wheat cents were made in 1944 across Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mints: over 2.1 billion coins!
Identify Your 1944 Wheat Penny
If you have a 1994 wheat penny in your possession or you would like to buy one to add to your collection, you first need to be able to positively identify this coin. There are a few key features to look out for to ascertain whether a 1944 wheat penny is genuine or not. This will help you to value it and make sure you get the right price for it, or make sure you are paying the right price!
1. Lincoln Portrait
A genuine 1944 wheat penny will bear the portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the head (obverse) side of the coin. For this reason it is also known as the 1944 Lincoln penny.
To the right of Lincoln the year will be engraved, and to the left the word “liberty” will be engraved.
Above the portrait there is an inscription which says “in god we trust”.
2. Wheat Stalks
On the tail (reverse) side of the 1944 wheat penny there are two inscriptions which read “The United States of America” and “One Cent.”
The actual wheat stalks are positioned to the right and left sides edges of the coin. At the top of the coin the phrase “E Pluribus Unum” is inscribed.
3. Mint Mark
Genuine 1944 pennies without any mint mark were minted in the Philadelphia mint.
If you find a “D” beneath “1944” this is the mintmark of the Denver mint.
Likewise, if you find an “S” beneath “1944”, the penny was minted at the San Francisco mint.
4. Metal Type
The overwhelming majority of 1944 pennies were made from copper (around 95%) and zinc (around 5%). There are some very rare ones which were combined with steel (more details in our other article covering the 1944 steel wheat penny in detail!). You can tell whether you penny is made from copper or steel by holding a magnet to it. If the penny is moved by a magnet it has steel content, if not it is copper.
There are even some copper versions which may bear discoloration due to traces of gunpowder which was not removed during the metal refining process from when ammunition shells were melted down to make the coins.
5. Weight And Dimensions
Another way to tell if the coin in genuine is to measure and weigh it. It should weigh 3.1 grams. Using a sensitive mini scale is useful for accurate weighing.
The 1944 wheat penny diameter is 19 millimeters across.
1944 Wheat Penny Errors
1944 D/S Wheat Penny
One of the rarer 1944 wheat pennies that can be found is the D/S wheat penny. These were pennies that were minted at the Denver Mint, but mistakenly stamped originally with an S mint mark for San Francisco. The accidental S marks were buffed over and replaced with a D, but the traces of the top of the S can still be seen if you look closely. Using a magnifying glass is recommended. Otherwise this may require a coin expert’s eye for positive identification!
Experts estimate that possibly tens of thousands of these D/S error coins are in existence. Their novelty can bump up the price of a 1944 wheat penny, so look out for these unusual error coins!
1944 Steel Wheat Penny
There are some rare examples of 1944 steel wheat pennies out there. These were leftover steel blanks from the production of 1943 pennies when copper was in short supply. Copper and bronze were being used in the manufacture of ammunition during World War II, so a cheaper and more readily available material – steel – was substituted.
The 1944 steel wheat pennies are a combination of leftover steel and copper. These rare coins can fetch an incredibly high price at auction. See our sister article ‘1944 Steel Wheat Penny’ for more details!
Other 1944 Wheat Penny Errors
Other than the D/S wheat pennies, and the steel wheat pennies detailed above, there are a few other error pennies to look out for. These include:
- The 1944 S Die Break Obverse
- Clipped coin errors
- Off center strikes
- Double strikes
1944 Wheat Penny Value Guide
When it comes to valuing the 1944 wheat penny the mint mark, condition and rarity are the most important factors which dictate the price.
The market value of rare and collectible pennies fluctuates with changing interests and new entries to the market. Keep an eye on Coin Trackers, a site which tracks the value of different versions of coins and is updated regularly.
Here, we’ll list the average prices they currently fetch from cheapest to most expensive:
|Mint marks||Condition||Average value|
|1944 wheat penny no mint mark||Good
$0.89 – $2.31
|1944 D wheat penny||Good
$0.89 – $2.31
|1944 S wheat penny||Good
$0.89 – $2.31
|1944 steel wheat penny||Good
For more details on the exact type of 1944 steel wheat penny and the average value of each kind, see our sister article ‘1944 Steel Wheat Penny’.
When we say good, fine, extremely fine, and uncirculated condition, what do we mean? Here’a a quick guide:
- Good – lowest market value, heavy damage, difficult to make out the lettering and patterns
- Fine – typically in circulation a long time but without major damage, features mostly visible, higher market value.
- Extremely fine – close to perfect! Potentially a small flaw or scratch, but otherwise lettering and images totally clear, higher market value.
- Uncirculated – the best of the best! Basically in mint condition with only perhaps some natural discoloration, highest market value.
Evaluating A Coin Yourself
It can be fairly easy to evaluate a coin yourself to get an idea of how much it is worth. This is technically called coin grading. To ascertain a coin’s market value it is important to focus on the quality of the coin – how well it was originally struck (made). Here, you can look for how well defined the inscriptions and images are. If everything can be seen clearly, and all marks including the mint mark are crisp, it means the coin is high quality. This will raise the price.
Next, you can evaluate the level of preservation. How much damage has the coin sustained over years of use? Are there signs of wearing where the words and images have been rubbed away? Are there any scratches or nicks present on the surface of the coin? A badly damaged and worn coin is lower quality and will lower the value.
Coin grading uses a 70 point scale, agreed upon and standardised by professional numismatists (coin experts). Find out more here.
1944 Wheat Penny Buying Guide
Buying rare and valuable pennies online is relatively easy if you know what you are looking for. Make sure you conduct thorough research so you know how to look out for fakes and the exact ID features of the coin you want.
Always ensure you buy coins through a reputable seller, ideally someone who includes detailed information and photographs in the coin listing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out more about the coin – most coin enthusiasts are happy to share information and spread their knowledge. Look out for valid certification in the listing.
Three sites you can try are:
- eBay – here you can search for the exact type of coin you are looking for, and get an idea of the kinds of prices they are sold for. You can filter by certification, grade, date, price, and more!
- PCGS (Professional Coin Grading Services) – here you can find a comprehensive list of Lincoln wheat coins, the value they have fetched so far, average market value, and current live auctions.
- USA Coin Book – here you can find all rare and collectible coins in circulation! This link takes you to a page listing all the Lincoln Wheat Cents under year, material, and mint mark. Simply select the right coin and scroll down to see live auctions and where it can be bought.